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HEARTS AND MINDS - US STYLE

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  • ummyakoub
    HEARTS AND MINDS - US STYLE Scott Taylor, Aljazeera, 11/27/03 http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/84B9680B-55DF-4562-AFF3- 093E94D3FBCB.htm As American
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2003
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      HEARTS AND MINDS - US STYLE
      Scott Taylor, Aljazeera, 11/27/03
      http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/84B9680B-55DF-4562-AFF3-
      093E94D3FBCB.htm

      As American troops exit the former Presidential Palace complex in
      Tikrit, the last thing they see emblazoned above the arched gateway
      is the 4th Infantry Division motto: Strike First.

      Since the last of the organised Iraqi military resistance was crushed
      in late April, these expansive palace grounds have been the
      headquarters for the US 4th Division.

      As the birthplace of ousted president Saddam Hussein, Tikrit has
      proven to be a hotbed of Iraqi resistance throughout the US
      occupation.

      I asked my escort Specialist Jack Craig, a military policeman from
      Minnesota, how he correlated the "strike first" directive with the US
      military's current policy of attempting to win the "hearts and minds"
      of the local population.

      "Actually, I see 'hearts and minds' as a tactical doctrine. To me, it
      means that's where we should aim first," said Craig. " Shoot them in
      the body or in the head, but just make sure you shoot them first…"

      From his humourless expression, I presumed that he wasn't joking.

      "We have two major factors effecting the ability for some of our
      troops to understand restraint," said Eddie Calis, the civilian
      security adviser at the US airbase at Kirkuk, in northern Iraq.

      "One problem is that a lot of our soldiers are shit-scared and want
      to get out of here alive, no matter what that entails.

      "The second and much less widespread issue is that of misplaced
      patriotism," said Calis, giving as an example one of the soldiers
      stationed at the Kirkuk airfield will soon be rotated back to
      America, and who feels that he has yet to fulfil his national duty.

      "Every day he complains that he has not yet had the opportunity to
      kill an Iraqi, and do his bit for the war," explained Calis.

      "On several recent occasions he has initiated provocation
      deliberately with local drivers at the gate, and I only hope that
      [this soldier] will be sent home before he fulfils his quest at the
      cost of an innocent life…"

      SEE ALSO:

      MUSLIM CALL TO PRAYER ECHOES ACROSS US ARMY BASE IN SADDAM'S HOMETOWN
      Patrick Moser, Agence France Presse, 11/28/03

      After the call to prayer echoed Friday across a US army base in the
      heart of Iraq's combat zone, US army Sergeant Mesahchai Whitaker took
      off her combat boots and walked into a mosque.

      Having swapped her kevlar helmet for a head scarf, she knelt on the
      carpeted floor, facing Mecca. The only woman at the Al-Hara al-Gabir
      mosque, she prayed at a distance from the other faithful.

      Whitaker, 43, was also the only US soldier to attend Friday prayers
      at the small mosque within the palace compound that serves as the 4th
      Infantry Division's Iraq headquarters in the hometown of ousted
      president Saddam Hussein.

      As she prayed, the sound of mortar echoed outside, a reminder that
      the US army base is located right by the center of Tikrit, a cauldron
      of anti-American violence, 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of
      Baghdad.

      The other worshippers all work at the base, some as members of the
      US-trained Iraqi Civilian Defense Corps and others as civilian
      contractors catering for the troops.

      "It's a wonderful experience, as a Muslim to be here," said Whitaker,
      from New Jersey, whose parents converted to the Islamic faith before
      she was born.

      But since she arrived in Iraq seven months ago, she has never been to
      a mosque outside US military bases. Much as she'd like to, the risk
      is too high. "We're still at war," she said.

      Other than verses from the Koran and a few phrases she has picked up
      in Iraq, Whitaker speaks no Arabic and has little contact with other
      worshippers.

      She also said none of her fellow soldiers have given her a hard time
      over her religion, though some have expressed curiosity about it.

      "I don't think most soldiers understand Islam," she said, as she put
      on her desert boots on her way out of the mosque, which overlooks the
      Tigris river.

      "They may have a hard time adjusting, sometimes ignorance is bliss,
      sometimes it brings on fear," said Whitaker, the mother of a 22-year-
      old daughter…
      *********************************************************************

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